Every few years, Christmas presents Christians with a crisis. Culturally, Christmas is typically celebrated in the morning with festive gift opening, and often with extended family. However, the crisis comes when the cultural celebration of Christmas “conflicts” with the normal and biblical cycle of Lord’s Day worship. In other words, what are families to do when Christmas falls on a Sunday? What are churches to do when Christmas falls on a Sunday?
For orthodox Christianity, you wouldn’t think this would present much of a problem. The Lord’s Day is, after all, the Lord’s Day, regardless of what other holiday it might be. It is the Lord Jesus Christ whom we honor. He, the newborn babe placed in the feeding trough, whose birth we celebrate on Christmas Day, was born to die for the sins of men. He died on a Roman cross, bore the sin of mankind on his own body, and absorbed the wrath of God against sin through his substitutionary death. The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ make his birth meaningful. Without the death and resurrection of Christ, the nativity would merely be a meaningless sentimental portrait.
There are two days of the calendar in 2016 that churches should try to not altogether cancel their worship services. Easter always falls on Sunday, since we know that the resurrection of Jesus took place on the first day of the week, which we call Sunday, and which the apostle John called The Lord’s Day (Revelation 1:10). But this year, Christmas also falls on a Sunday, and there is no good reason why any church that believes the gospel should altogether cancel their worship services on this day.
Corporate worship should not be viewed by families as expendable and easily discarded in light of something viewed as “more important.” Nor should corporate worship be sacrificed by churches in deference to the cultural celebrations of Christmas. Also, attending corporate worship should not be viewed as a mere formality before families get to “the good stuff” of celebrating Christmas as a family. Corporate worship with God’s people IS the good stuff. Family traditions are nice and good, but are not to be elevated above the things of God.
I encourage everyone whose church is having a worship service on Christmas day to “not forsake the gathering of yourselves together, as the manner of some is,” but to gather with your church families for corporate worship, celebrating together the birth, the life, the death, and the resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. In so doing, you will honor God, you will encourage one another, and help to preserve the Christian faith in such a way that honors the Christ of Christmas more than the cultural festivities and traditions of Christmas.
I encourage everyone whose church is not holding services on Christmas day to find a good Bible-believing church that is, and to attend. Our main worship service is at 10:45am and any are welcome to attend (Heritage Baptist Church, http://www.hbcdover.com).
O Come, Let Us Adore Him, Christ the Lord!